Coronavirus claims two with nearly 70 cases confirmed in Lebanon

A woman wears a mask and gloves, as she shops at a supermarket as people begin to stock up on provisions, in Beirut, Lebanon. (AP)
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Updated 12 March 2020

Coronavirus claims two with nearly 70 cases confirmed in Lebanon

  • Restaurants closed after supermarket attack, but deliveries to continue
  • MEA arranges flights to transport Saudi citizens to the Kingdom

BEIRUT: Preventative measures in Lebanon were increased to limit the spread of coronavirus on Wednesday, after the country recorded an increase in the number of deaths and infections.

Illegal crossings between Lebanon and Syria in Hermel were closed by the military to prevent the transmission the virus to Lebanese territory “in light of the chaos in the health situation in Syria,” a Lebanese health official told Arab News.

The Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafés, Night-Clubs, and Amusements in Lebanon announced the closure of all facilities, with only delivery services still operating. Casino du Liban has closed, whilst services at mosques and churches have been postponed and sterilization procedures put in place across the country. Arab News has learned that media organizations have asked employees to work from home where possible.

The Syndicate of Dentists in Beirut called on dentists to “limit medical work to urgent and necessary treatments only.” The Federation of Trade Unions of Independent Interests and Public Institutions said members would stop going to work from Thursday to next Sunday.

A source at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Bizri, denied Rafik Hariri International Airport was to close, but he warned: “The country will close as part of a plan to combat the spread of the virus and mitigate gatherings as much as possible. University hospitals are cooperating with us and medical and health teams are ready to deal with cases and they are taking preventive measures to protect themselves.”

Lebanon’s second coronavirus victim, Maroun Karam, 55, died on Wednesday.

According to the minister of health’s office, Karam was “not suffering from health problems and it was found that his immune system was very weak. He did not travel but the infection was transmitted to him from a students who came from abroad.”

The number of recorded patients in Lebanon is now around 70, along with hundreds of people suspected of carrying the virus in quarantine. The Ministry of Health stated that Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut had 61 confirmed cases, with 9 confirmed cases in other university hospitals.

Rafik Hariri University Hospital said it believed: “The incidence of coronavirus will increase by 30 percent every day.” The University Hospital of Our Lady of Aid said that 10 of its employees were infected with the virus as a result of direct contact with an infected patient.

It has emerged, though, that the first case of the virus confirmed in Lebanon (a woman who had recently traveled to Iran) has made a full recovery. At least 37 percent of all cases have come from people who are suspected of having caught the virus abroad.

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri took to Twitter to urge people to “close the doors in the face of corona (regardless of which) country it comes from, sisterly or friendly, far or near. The safety of the Lebanese should be above any consideration.”

In a statement, the head of the Lebanese Forces party, Samir Geagea, called for a “serious health emergency and the most appropriate precautionary measures.”

The Saudi Embassy in Lebanon announced that it was “coordinating with Middle East Airlines (MEA) to operate a flight on Saturday morning to King Khalid Airport in Riyadh, and another on Sunday morning to King Abdul Aziz Airport. for Saudi citizens wishing to return to the Kingdom.”

MEA announced that after obtaining special permission from the authorities in Saudi Arabia, it would operate 3 trips to and from Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dammam, to secure the return of Lebanese and Saudi nationals to their homelands.

The Kingdom had previously suspended all flights to Lebanon in light of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon Wang Kejian announced during his meeting with President Michel Aoun that his country was ready “to assist Lebanon in combating this epidemic.”

He said that the situation in China “is better than before, as a result of the measures taken by the Chinese authorities to restrict this epidemic and stop its spread.”

Algeria says France to return remains of 24 resistance fighters

Updated 02 July 2020

Algeria says France to return remains of 24 resistance fighters

  • Tebboune said some of the remains belonged to “leaders” of the resistance movement who were killed in the 19th century

ALGIERS: Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Thursday said France will return the remains of 24 resistance fighters who were killed during its colonization of the North African country.
“Within a few hours Algerian military planes will fly in from France and land at the Houari Boumediene international airport with the remains of 24 (members) of the popular resistance,” Tebboune said during a military ceremony.
Tebboune said some of the remains belonged to “leaders” of the resistance movement who were killed in the 19th century fighting against France which occupied and ruled Algeria for 132 years.
In his speech, Tebboune said these resistance fighters “had been deprived of their natural and human right to be buried for more than 170 years.”
One of the leaders whose remains are to be returned is Sheikh Bouzian, who was captured in 1849 by the French, shot and decapitated.
The remains of two other key figures of the resistance — Bou Amar Ben Kedida and Si Mokhtar Ben Kouider Al Titraoui — are also among those expected back in Algeria.
The country won independence from France in 1962 after eight years of bitter war that left some 1.5 million Algerians dead.
Emmanuel Macron, the first French president to be born after the war, made his first official visit to Algeria in December 2017, announcing that he came as a “friend” despite France’s historically prickly ties with its former colony.
At the time he told news website Tout sur l’Algerie that he was “ready” to see his country hand back the skulls of Algerian resistance fighters.
Algerian and French academics have long campaigned for the return of 37 skulls held at the Musee de l’Homme in Paris.
In December 2019, Macron said that “colonialism was a grave mistake” and called for turning the page on the past.
During his presidential election campaign Macron had created a storm by calling France’s colonization of Algeria a “crime against humanity.”